Molokans , a Russian Ethnic group in Kars Oblast

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When Kars was under Russian occupation, one of the most interesting ethnic groups were the Molokans. Their story begins in 1660 when they rebelled against the changes in the holy book of the Russian Orthodoxy named “Religion and Prayer.”

Their problems increased in 1683 under the westernization policies of Peter the Great who interfered in their clothing and made haircuts and shaving compulsory. In 1805 the religious dispute reaches its peak and Malakans living in Saratof and Dambug leave the Russian sektisizm.

In those days in Russia it was commonly believed that milk should be drunk only twice a week; the Molokans objected to this diet and argued that it could be drunk everyday. Moloko means milk in Russian, and Molokan refers to those who drink milk, or who break the diet.

The Molokans were allowed to move to the Caucasus in the 1840s, and with the Russian occupation of Kars in 1877-1878 they were exiled here. They settled in the villages of Yalincayir (Zohrab) and Atcilar in the Arpacay district, and the village of Cakmak northwest of Kars. They mostly settled along roads and rivers.

Molokans contributed to the life of Kars with their milling, cheese-making and agricultural skills. Their rellreligious beliefs are opposed to war, weapons and military service. The Molokans did not leave Kars after the Russian occupation ended in 1918. However when they were forced to carry arms in 1921, they emigrated from Turkey. Most of the others left in 1962, most of them going to the Soviet Union and others to the USA and Canada.

Today there are only a few Molokan families living in Kars but they are remembered fondly as honest, hardworking and modest people.

There are still a number of Molokans inhabiting Kars as a result of their marriages in the region. What remains of them is a few broken mills by the side of the streams. Only the names of the huge Arlov Horses and Molokan cows...

And also humanity, love, fraternity and friendship. In a warlike environment smelling of blood and gunpowder, clean memories with no bloodstain on their hands...

and a new movie about Molokans in Kars

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